Samuel F. Sears, Jr., PhD

Cardiac psychology; patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators; cardiac rehabilitation

Office (Rawl 132): 252-328-6118
Clinical Referrals: 252-744-4400
Fax: 252-328-6283
Lab Webpage:
Mailing Address
104 Rawl Building
Department of Psychology
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27858-4353

Willing to consider taking a doctoral student in 2024-25

  • Yes


  • PhD, Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida (1995)
  • MS, Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida (1992)
  • BS, Psychology, University of Florida (1990)

Research Interests

Dr. Sears is currently engaged in research projects at East Carolina University and at other prominent research institutions around the US and world including:

  • Patient Acceptance of Remote Monitoring of ICD Follow up
  • Activity Assessment via Accelerometers in Cardiac Devices and Wearables
  • The Psychological and Behavioral Factors in Atrial Fibrillation
  • Smartphone Use for ICD Patients
  • Measurement and Treatment of ICD Patient Shock Anxiety

Professional work

  • Nationally recognized expert in the psychological care and quality of life outcomes of implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) patients.
  • Has published over 200 articles in the medicine and psychology research literatures and has well over 10, 000 citations.
  • In 2021, named Dr. Sears one of the top 50 experts/ prolific authors in the world on implantable defibrillators over the last 10 years amongst the 27,847 authors on the topic.
  • Provides clinical services to cardiac and ICD patients in a fully integrated cardiac clinic at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU.
  • Serves a co-director of the ECU Cardiology Fellowship.
  • Founded “ICD Coach” to produce mobile phone apps for cardiac and ICD patients and families.
  • Dr. Sears was honored by the University of North Carolina system as the O. Max Gardner Award winner for 2013.This award is given to the faculty member deemed to have made “the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race” and is considered the highest honor for a faculty member in the state.

      Selected Recent Publications in peer refereed journals:

      • Sears, S. F., Anthony, S., Harrell, R., Tripp, C., Bowman, J., Khan, S., & Naniwadekar, A. (2022). Managing atrial fibrillation: The intersection of cardiology, health psychology, and the patient experience. Health psychology : official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association, 10.1037/hea0001135. Advance online publication.
      • Harrell, R., Anthony, S., Travia, K., & Sears, S. F. (2022). Unlocking physical activity during COVID-19 in cardiac device patients.  Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention. In press.
      • Sears, S. F., Huber, N. L., Nekkanti, R., Hammerle, C., Sadaf, M. I., Gehi, A., McKillop, M., Conti, J., Gunderson, B., & Burch, A. E. (2022). Does activity tracking serve as a cue to increase activity in implantable cardioverter defibrillator patients?: A randomized pilot study. Journal of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and prevention, 42(1), 64–66.
      • Sears, S. F., Force, Z., Khan, S., & Nekkanti, R. (2022). Patient acceptance: Metrics, meaning, and the “missing piece” in evaluating novel devices. Journal of cardiovascular electrophysiology, 33(1), 90–92.
      • Sall, K. E., Griffith, A. M., Midgette, E. P., Winters, A. R., Tripp, C., Nekkanti, R., & Sears, S. F. (2022). Cardiac psychology training in a rural health care setting: East Carolina Heart Institute. Health psychology : official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association, 10.1037/hea0001167. Advance online publication.
      • Tripp, C., Gehi, A. K., Rosman, L., Anthony, S., & Sears, S. F. (2021). Measurement of patient confidence in self-management of atrial fibrillation: Initial validation of the Confidence in Atrial fibriLlation Management (CALM) Scale. Journal of cardiovascular electrophysiology32(6), 1640–1645.
      • Sears, S. F., Tripp, C., Huber, N. L., Khan, S., Nekkanti, R., Burch, A. E., & Pokorney, S. D. (2020). Collaborative care for the wearable cardioverter defibrillator patient: Getting the patient and medical team “vested and active”. Journal of cardiovascular electrophysiology, 31(9), 2509–2515.
      • Sears S.F., Anthony S, Naniwadekar A. Modern atrial fibrillation care: Becoming a pro at using PROs. Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology. 2020 Oct. DOI: 10.1111/jce.14793.
      • Sears, S.F. Rosman, L., Sasaki, S., Kondo, Y., Sterns, L.D., Schloss, E.J., Kurita, T., Meijer, A., Raijmakers, J., Gerriste, B., & Auricchio, A. (2018).  Defibrillator shocks and their impact on objective and subjective patient outcomes: Results from the PainFree SST clinical trial, Heart Rhythm, 15, 734-740.
      • Dornelas, E. A., & Sears, S. F. (2018). Living with heart despite recurrent challenges: Psychological care for adults with advanced cardiac disease. American Psychologist, 73(8), 1007-1018.

      Full Curriculum Vitae (PDF) >

      For more information about Dr. Sears’s work